Ethan J. Theuerkauf, C. Robin Mattheus, Katherine N. Braun, and Jenny Bueno, 2021. “Patterns and processes of beach and foredune geomorphic change along a Great Lakes shoreline: Insights from a year-long drone mapping study along Lake Michigan”, Shore & Beach, 89(2), 46-55.
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Patterns and processes of beach and foredune geomorphic change along a Great Lakes shoreline: Insights from a year-long drone mapping study along Lake Michigan
Ethan J. Theuerkauf(1), C. Robin Mattheus(2), Katherine N. Braun(2), and Jenny Bueno(2,3)
1) Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University,
673 Auditorium Road, East Lansing, MI 48824
2) Illinois State Geological Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 615 East Peabody Drive, Champaign IL 61820
3) Department of Geography, Florida State University, 113 Collegiate Loop, P.O. Box 3062190, Tallahassee, FL 32306
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coastal storms are an important driver of geomorphic change along Great Lakes shorelines. While there is abundant anecdotal evidence for storm impacts in the region, only a handful of studies over the last few decades have quantified them and addressed system morphodynamics. Annual to seasonal lake-level fluctuations and declining winter-ice covers also influence coastal response to storms, yet relationships between hydrodynamics and geomorphology are poorly constrained. Given this, the Great Lakes region lags behind marine coasts in terms of predictive modeling of future coastal change, which is a necessary tool for proactive coastal management. To help close this gap, we conducted a year-long study at a sandy beach-dune system along the western shore of Lake Michigan, evaluating storm impacts under conditions of extremely high water level and absent shorefast ice. Drone-derived beach and dune topography data were used to link geomorphic changes to specific environmental conditions. High water levels throughout the year of study facilitated erosion during relatively minor wave events, enhancing the vulnerability of the system to a large storm in January 2020. This event occurred with no shorefast ice present and anomalously high winter water levels, resulting in widespread erosion and overwash. This resulted in 20% of the total accretion and 66% of the erosion documented at the site over the entire year. Our study highlights the importance of both antecedent and present conditions in determining Great Lakes shoreline vulnerability to storm impacts.